There is nothing like coming home from a tough day to have your furry friend greet you at the door, eyes full of love, bouncing with excitement to see you again. Tails may wag along with yips of happiness or purring felines may rub their faces against your leg. No matter the display, it’s sure to lift your spirits; something sorely needed in these turbulent times. These are creatures to be cherished.
However, it seems there are more and more homeless pets on the street. Sometimes they just get loose; we’ve been out there, calling for Rover—our own and others. We’ve shared the missing dog/cat messages on social media with hopes they find their way back home. We’ve felt the pain when they don’t.
We’re not talking about the accidental strays. We’re talking about the choices humans make that put these animals on the street.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® statistics, approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters in the United States annually—about 3.3 million dogs and 3.2 million cats. About 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized annually (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats).
In Greene, our shelter employees work incredibly hard to not euthanize animals—finding rescues or adopters for the dogs. It’s important to note here that there is not a county-owned cat shelter. The Madison-Greene Humane Society (MGHS) is a nonprofit group that works to save as many cats as possible, but there are more cats than room or fosters. We run a weekly “Cat of the Week” photo and write-up to assist their efforts in finding homes for the cats.
Yet, we have cats having kittens in our yards and other cats lounging on our porches daily—and the numbers appear to be growing, in neighborhoods at least. People have moved out recently, leaving cats behind, which is unfair to the animal and the neighbors left to try to help.
Of course, there will be exceptions and curveballs thrown at you that make it impossible to keep an animal. During those times, we implore pet owners to find homes or fosters for their animals rather than turning them out into the world. Greene County is still rural, but not as rural as it once was and you’re likely to find Fluffy hit by a car traveling too fast on the curvy backroads unable to stop in time.
However, before you bring an animal into your life remember that you’re making a commitment to care for that animal for the rest of his or her life—10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. Can you make that commitment, thinking ahead to possible lifestyle changes, such as getting pregnant or moving for a job? If not yet, it’s OK to wait (or foster!).
It’s also important to choose the right type of pet. If you’re an active person, a dog that’s very active could be great. If you’re not active, the choice of a blue heeler may not be the best pick at that time. Research a breed before you adopt so you’re prepared for what they might need.
Once you bring that pet home, consider spaying or neutering the animal. If the cat gets out and can’t be found, at least there won’t be additional kittens in the future. Neutering your male dog keeps him safe from trying to get out because he catches a whiff of a female in heat.
Madison-Greene Humane Society needs people who will foster cats and volunteers to come in and socialize them. Both MGHS and the Greene County Animal Shelter accept donations for sterilization of animals before adoption and for food and bedding and toys.
For more information about how you can help MGHS, visit madisongreenehumanesociety.com.
For more information about the shelter, www.greenecountyva.gov/county-services/animal-shelter.
But, first and foremost, consider how your actions will affect the living thing before you bring them home, or give them up.